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Van Mildert on hunt for backers to drive growth

Premium and young fashion indie mini-chain Van Mildert is seeking investment to fund expansion.

Van Mildert, which won three Drapers Awards last year, will launch its sixth store in Harrogate next month, followed by a further three over the next 18 months.

Van Mildert is part of Delima, a business that runs 16 stores, including the five Van Mildert stores and middle-market fascias Box Clothing and Tucci, as well as RTC, an agency in the north representing brands including Firetrap.

Delima managing director Cyril Williams said: “We are looking to double the size of this business over the next two years, which sits comfortably within the Delima growth strategy to a 40-store group. We are currently considering equity partners to join this roll-out.”

The sixth Van Mildert store will open on Harrogate’s Princes Street in June, with 3,000 sq ft of trading space over three floors. It will stock premium menswear brands including Vivienne Westwood, Stone Island, Lyle & Scott, Adidas Y-3, Aquascutum, Barbour, Edwin and Evisu.

Williams said: “Harrogate is an ideal location for us as the town is underserviced with the brands we are known for.” Seven staff are being recruited for the Harrogate store.

Van Mildert’s existing portfolio includes stores in Gateshead, Durham, Darlington and York, and a womenswear store in Durham. The retailer swept the board at last year’s Drapers Awards, picking up the Independent Retailer of the Year, Young Fashion Retailer of the Year and Menswear Retailer of the Year prizes.

Williams said the planned expansion followed steady growth at Van Mildert, where like-for-like sales rose 25% in March and 19% in April across the stores, with menswear trading particularly well.

The group’s expansion will focus on the premium rather than the young fashion end of the market. Williams added: “The established brands such as Hugo Boss, Stone Island and Y-3 are consistently performing well. The young fashion market is tougher, with many brands struggling to cope with the economic downturn, and this, alongside the saturation of distribution, seems to have seen a lot of businesses underperform at this level over the past 12 months.”

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